Recently, I watched an anime called “Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead,” featuring a character named Tendo Hikari. Hikari, a recent college graduate, immediately landed a job at a company he had always dreamt of and even found someone he admired at work. He thought he was about to embark on a successful career, working hard for his dreams. However, three years passed, and the vibrant, idealistic young man had transformed into a “corporate drone” (a self-deprecating term often used in Japan to mock or self-mock lower-level office workers who sacrifice their dignity, sleep, diet, and social life for their companies).
One day, as he dragged his tired body to work, he suddenly realized that everyone on the street had turned into zombies, attacking pedestrians. In the process of escaping, he realized that he no longer had to go to work, and a profound joy filled his heart. At that moment, the world around him transformed from black and white to vibrant color. While running, he saw the deep blue sky and lush green jungles. Three years of work had made him forget how colorful the world truly was.
This is when the story truly begins. It’s not a story about struggling for survival in a zombie world or about finding a cure for the zombie crisis. Instead, it’s a story about rediscovering a passion for life. The protagonist realizes that at any moment, he too could become a zombie, so he decides to complete 100 things he has always wanted to do before his life ends. He doesn’t start with a list of these 100 things; instead, he is inspired by encountering different people and situations to discover what he truly wants to do. Whether it’s something ordinary like cleaning his house or something fascinating like reconnecting with his parents after three years, everything is something he passionately desires to accomplish.
A crisis that disrupts the routines of daily life forces the protagonist to rethink his attitude and approach to living. This reminds me of the pandemic period when everything came to a standstill. We were all forced to stop, unable to go to work or school as usual, and our lives were greatly impacted. It compelled us to reevaluate our lives. Although it was uncomfortable, this pause allowed us to ponder what truly matters in life. Was the daily rush necessary? What should we do, and what can we let go of? What are the things we’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t in our busy lives?
I remember during the pandemic, I would take retreats to the beaches in Hong Kong. With fewer tourists around, the sea became as clear as popular tourist destinations. There were even reports that the Ganges River in India had become significantly cleaner during the lockdown. This pause allowed us to filter out impurities. Have you experienced a newfound clarity in your life? However, when the pandemic passed, and everything returned to “normal,” did we just fall back into our busy routines? Did we lose our passion for life due to stress? Think about it—what can help you rediscover that passion? The theologian C.S. Lewis once said in “The Problem of Pain,” “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” What did God say to you during the pandemic? Have you forgotten it as the world goes back to “normal”?